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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Coatings for the power generation market

The power generation industry is not a homogenous market. It is often broadly divided into the categories of nuclear and conventional power generation. But the “conventional” category can be divided into well-established power generation methods such as fossil fuels and hydroelectric, and newer, renewable sources such as wind and tidal power generation.

Because these various sources of power generation face such different challenges, and require diverse and sometimes very specific characteristics of their protective coatings, the power generation market possibly has the most to gain from on-site surveys and coating systems recommendations by NACE-certified coatings professionals. Site-specific recommendations based on the unique needs of any given asset in a facility are simply more likely to perform than those recommended by “experts” who have never set foot in the facility.

Power generation operations will share certain needs to be sure. Most of them will likely have large amounts of structural steel that must be guarded against corrosion. High operating temperatures and the need for high temp coatings will be prevalent in power generation facilities using a variety of energy sources. Guarding against corrosion under insulation will likely be a concern.

But there will also be a number of challenges that are unique to each type of industry. Wind turbine coatings will require quick cure times and more UV-resistant properties, for example. Nuclear facilities are subjected to very strict regulatory standards, one area of need being high levels of fireproofing. In hydroelectric facilities, permanently submerged structures need to be taken into account.

Additionally, power generation facilities are likely to have OEM assets that are completely unique to that facility. Sometimes the application process for this type of equipment can be quite complicated. A coatings professional, evaluating the situation on-site, should be able to recognize these situations, and perhaps even make recommendations to the owner on how to proceed.

The better facility managers and owners understand the specific conditions of their own assets (operating temperatures, moisture levels, etc.) the better they can protect those assets. It will also increase their ability to predict when maintenance is required, reducing the likelihood of unscheduled downtime.

Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution for a market as diverse as power generation, it is crucially important that the managers of these facilities work closely with coatings professionals to understand the unique corrosion protection needs of their site. On-site surveys provide an excellent opportunity for achieving this understanding.


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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

US Coatings partners with industrial coatings distributor for Southwest region

US Coatings is proud to announce its new partnership with B&W Distributors. The Mesa, Arizona-based company will now be distributing industrial coatings products from US Coatings throughout the Southwestern United States.


B&W Distributors, Inc. has been in business since 1995, striving to supply its customers with the “best infrastructure repair and corrosion control products available.” They pride themselves on choosing only the finest suppliers of specialty coatings, sealants, linings and repair compounds.

“It’s a testament to the quality of our products that such a discerning distributor has chosen to carry our label,” said US Coatings General Manager Mike Reed. “It’s an honor to be partnering with B&W.”

B&W Distributors is a Certified Woman’s Business Enterprise. Visit their website for complete contact information.

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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

How long will my marine coatings last?

Marine coatings durability

Durability is often one of the first topics to come up when discussing marine coatings. How long will this coating last? Given our emphasis on the importance of marine coatings maintenance, it’s something we put a lot of thought into. As with any coating application, a lot of factors go into predicting the lifespan of marine coatings.

When it comes to exterior marine coatings and durability, ship and barge owners have some pretty simple expectations. A good exterior marine coating must have excellent corrosion protection, high UV-resistance (it’s not like tugboats pull into a garage come quitting time), high gloss retention, and solid abrasion resistance characteristics.

Even with these characteristics, the coatings that protect the hulls of barges are faced with an uphill battle. With all the abuse they encounter—from raking against other barges, scraping river bottoms, hitting driftwood and other debris—it’s normally a good idea to maintain these coatings every two to four years, when the barge is dry-docked for maintenance.

Besides the hull, coatings in other areas of a vessel face their own challenges. Non-skid coatings are safety coatings that are popular because they reduce or even eliminate fall hazards in high-traffic areas. But because non-skid coatings are subjected to such heavy foot traffic, they’re susceptible to wear and it’s important that owners keep a close eye on them and pick the best option for their application.

One solution we often recommend is an epoxy-based system, where an aggregate is broadcast onto an initial, wet application and then a topcoat is applied over that. The aggregate can be anything that can be ground up into a fine material that’s still course enough to cause friction. Some of the most common are glass, coal slag and sand. When it becomes apparent that the coating has reached the end of its life expectancy, it should be replaced immediately.

A consultation with a certified coatings professional will leave a barge owner with a much better understanding of how long a coating will hold up under given conditions. This meeting should also work to establish a maintenance plan, which will simplify service schedules moving forward, and give the owner a better idea of how to budget for coatings. The professional should be able to give options at several price points, tips for extending the coating’s lifespan, instructions for proper maintenance of the coating and specific recommendations for how and when to reapply the product.

If you’re ready to talk now about marine coatings for your barges, get in touch with US Coatings today.


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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Safety and marine coatings

Coatings are capable of more than just protecting against corrosion. Though that may be their most important job, and one that keeps crews working on barges and tugboats safe from the obvious problems associated with a corroding hull, coatings are also capable of playing a wider role in making marine vessels safer places to work.

We’ve written before about how, for a fraction of a facility’s maintenance budget, safety coatings can help to cut back on workplace accidents. The same holds true for the marine market, maybe even especially so, given the tendency of surfaces constantly exposed to moisture to become slippery, the eye strain of going from a bright, sunny deck to a dark cargo hold or the especially high stakes of a fire while on the water.

Safety and marine coatings

Making marine work safer

Non-skid coatings are becoming recognized as essential in the marine market. Given that, according to OSHA, slips, trips and falls rank behind only motor vehicle accidents as the cause of workplace fatalities, it’s not hard to see why non-skid coatings are so important. Beyond simply being effective at preventing wet surfaces from becoming slippery, non-skid marine coatings need to be durable, easy to apply (especially if they’re going to be applied while on the water) and they need to retain their function even if subjected to fuel or chemical spills.

Luminescent coatings also have a lot to offer the marine market. Making the transition from sunny conditions above deck to much darker conditions below deck can strain the eyes. Often the pace of work doesn’t allow time to let the eyes adjust. But glow-in-the-dark marine coatings can illuminate obstructions both overhead and underfoot. Bulkheads, low-hanging ventilation systems and narrow walkways can all be made more visible with a solution that’s inexpensive, easy to maintain and also serves as a reliable backup in the case of a power outage. But the most important area for luminescent coatings is the leading edge of the tugboat or barge. In low-light situations, or in the case of a total power outage, an illuminated bow will give the crew and others an idea of the outline of the vessel. This can prove instrumental in avoiding accidents.

Given the potential costs of a fire while on the water, fireproof marine coatings are certainly an option for making vessels safer that should be explored. Intumescent coatings protecting a the structural steel of a vessel can make the difference between the outbreak of a small fire and completely losing the craft. If a barge’s normal operations put it at an increased risk of encountering a fire, fireproof marine coatings make obvious sense.

Ensuring that potable water tanks are lined with an NSA-approved tank lining is another essential step in looking out for the well being of crews. This ensures that the fresh water supply is safely contained and free from contaminants that could cause sickness.

Protecting the environment

Recent booms in domestic oil production have seen an increase in oil moving by barge. This influx of oil traveling our nation’s waterways makes it worthwhile to remind owners that oil leaks are not solely caused by collisions. Especially given the new composition of crude, tank linings should be the subject of intense scrutiny. If transporting fuel that was extracted by hydraulic fracturing, a barge’s oil tanks should be equal to the task, lined with a product that can withstand higher concentrations of water.

Unfortunately, the American public is all too familiar with oil-related incidents on our waterways. Don’t let an improperly lined tank be the next headline-grabbing catastrophe, talk to a coatings professional about the state of your barge’s tank linings and ask about how a marine coatings maintenance plan can help to simplify the upkeep, while protecting against costly incidents. Download our product catalog to find a reliable marine coating.

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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Simplifying marine coatings maintenance

Marine coatings maintenance

Keeping a barge in shape to run rivers is no easy task. During its life of ferrying goods up and down waterways, a barge is constantly encountering driftwood and other debris in the water. Its hull regularly scrapes the river bottom. Its also guaranteed to spend a large amount of time moored to other barges, where a rising and falling wake leads to a lot of bumping and raking for it and its neighbors.

On its interior, the barge is subjected to regular loading and unloading of cargo which can cause impact damage in the case of dry goods, or pitting and rusting in the case of corrosion caused by liquids. On top of all that, tugboats are expected to support the living needs of a crew that spends long stints aboard while working the river.

Given the constant motion of both cargo and crew, it’s no surprise that regularly scheduled maintenance is a critical part of extending the service life of a vessel. At regular intervals, key components such as engines, pumps and generators need to be checked to make sure they’re working properly. The marine coatings that protect barges and tugboats are no exception.

Marine coatings conundrum

When it comes to tracking the life cycle of each vessel’s coating system, there’s a lot to keep in mind. Which areas of the barge or tugboat were last painted? What type of coating was used on the area? Was the deck painted with a non-skid coating? What sort of chemical resistance was required of the coatings used to line the barge’s storage tanks? Have potable water tanks been lined properly? Is the coating deep enough into its service life that it needs to be replaced before the asset is put back into service?

Now imagine you’re in charge of this routine for a fleet of barges that numbers upwards of 100. A task that required diligent work for one barge is an enormous logistical burden for an entire fleet.

Luckily, there are ways individuals in charge of marine coatings can make things easier on themselves. It’s possible to get together with a coatings manufacturer to design a coating that perfectly coincides with the other facets of a barge’s maintenance schedule. Say a barge is dry docked periodically for scheduled maintenance, a coating can be designed with exactly that intended service life. This way, a given maintenance task can also serve as a reminder that a coating’s service life is up.

US Coatings can also provide total asset analysis tracking along with its coatings. This enables us to keep tabs on every aspect of your marine coatings maintenance schedule. We can remind you when coatings were applied, what area they were applied to, the product specifications and alert you when a coating is nearing the end of its service life, for every vessel in your fleet. With digital record keeping of the fleet’s coatings maintenance schedule, it’s possible to look up when work was last done on a vessel and when it’s next scheduled to receive service. It’s our way of simplifying the way you do marine coatings maintenance.

Let’s get started

For a consultation on simplifying you marine coatings maintenance operation, get in touch with us today. We can talk coatings specifications, tracking your coatings and formulating a budget so your marine coatings are never the cause of future surprises.


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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Tank linings in the age of hydraulic fracturing

The advent of hydraulic fracturing has brought with it rapid economic growth and the previously undreamed of promise of energy independence for the United States. It has also completely changed the way the storage and transport of crude oil is approached.

Most owners of crude oil storage tanks, and the railroad tank cars that transport it, have recognized that fracking introduced many aggressive chemical components to the crude oil that previously got along pretty well with steel. Those that haven’t come to this realization find themselves at an increased risk for the sort of corrosion and pitting of storage tanks and tank cars that invite spills and significant environmental degradation.

Tank linings in the age of hydraulic fracturing

The issue

Corrosion is the result of oxidation, which can’t occur except in the presence of oxygen and water. With traditional methods of oil extraction, some water was present in the crude oil, but usually in trace amounts and suspended in the oil where no oxygen was able to reach it.

As a result, for the vast majority of the time humans have been extracting crude oil from the earth, the storage tanks and transport vessels used to move it did not need to be lined with protective coatings. Storage tank owners could save money by not lining their tanks, with minimal risk of corrosive damage ever being a problem. To this day, it’s not unheard of to encounter companies still requesting that railcar manufacturers not line the inside of their cars.

Fracking has forced a change. Because drastically more water is used in the process of hydraulic fracturing, greater care needs to be taken to protect against corrosion. While transporting oil obtained by fracking, water and oxygen are both abundant, meaning corrosion is once again on the list of concerns for owners of storage tanks and railroad tank cars.

Not just the hotspots

Storage and transport of crude oil obtained by fracking is not just a concern for owners operating near traditional hotspots of extraction like Texas, the Dakotas and the Gulf Coast. Storage tanks are commonplace across the United States, holding newly extracted crude as it makes its way to refineries, where still more storage tanks hold it while the crude waits to be refined.

Given the current scale of fracking operations across the United States, if only ten percent of owners have not upgraded their tank linings to address this reality, there are an enormous amount of storage tanks vulnerable to pitting, corrosion and leaks.

Crude’s journey, too, has prompted concerns over the safety of transporting by rail. Some estimate that over 1 million barrels of oil are being extracted per day, and that 9 million barrels are riding the rails at any given moment. A standard railroad tank car can hold about 740 barrels.

If railcar owners want to help protect against legal action, there’s no reason the latest railcar linings shouldn’t be a part of that strategy. As a part of stricter regulatory legislation that is in the works, there should be at least some attention paid to minimum standards for railcar linings.

And then there’s the water

Fracking is a water intensive enterprise. By some estimates, somewhere between 70 billion and 140 billion gallons per year are required. Some are searching for a process to recycle this “frack water,” while others believe it’s best disposed of by pumping it into deep underground wells.

Whatever solution emerges, storage and transport of this byproduct will become an increasing concern for as long as fracking keeps up its current pace. This presents a problem. The chemical blend used in frack water is regarded as proprietary by the companies who use it.

Without knowing exactly what they’re protecting against, coatings manufacturers can’t stand by the tank linings they supply to protect assets. Certain variables make it more difficult to predict which products will be effective. If the byproduct still contains rock debris or other abrasives, for instance, an additive such as flake glass may lead to better performance.

Without knowing the exact composition of the substance these tanks are holding, coatings manufacturers cannot guarantee a given product will provide adequate protection. Companies in charge of storing and transporting this wastewater should therefore be closely investigating the tank linings they use, making sure they’re up to the task.

Tank linings systems guide

We want to simplify the process of selecting linings for both storage tanks and railroad tank cars. To do so, we’ve put together a guide complete with system selection guides, chemical resistance charts, data sheets, case studies and more. You can download it by clicking the link below.


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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Guarding against corrosion under insulation

Corrosion under insulation can be the cause of more than just unscheduled downtime and ruined process materials. It can also result in hazardous leaks. Depending on the materials being transported in a facility, a leak could be one ignition source away from a fire that causes hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and jeopardizes hundreds or even thousands of lives.

Guarding against corrosion under insulation (CUI)

Given these high costs of CUI, it’s no surprise the corrosion industry spends millions every year trying to mitigate the problem. As we mentioned in an earlier post, a reliable, quality high temp coating is one of the most important steps in combatting the problem of CUI. That said, not all conditions are created equal when it comes to fostering the presence of CUI, and some areas and aspects of your facility should attract extra attention when it comes to inspecting for CUI. Here are a few factors that put an asset at increased risk of CUI.


The physical layout and orientation of an asset has a definite bearing on how likely it is to succumb to CUI. Because the corrosion is most often the result of an unwanted moisture buildup, places where gravity leads to moisture being channeled are naturally at a higher risk. This may occur in the elbows of piping or near attachments that provide flat surfaces or indentations for moisture to settle. For vertically oriented piping, the bottom of the system is an obvious point of concern, whereas on horizontally oriented pipe it is the underside, or the so-called “six o’clock position,” that presents the biggest threat.

This also applies to areas that, because of the layout of equipment in the facility, may experience increased levels of moisture relative to other areas. These include, process material spillover areas, areas adjacent to steam vents, spray from cooling towers, deluge systems and so on. These areas should be inspected frequently for CUI.


High operating temperatures are the conditions that lead to CUI being a consideration in the first place. While it can occur between a wide range of temperatures, it’s often said that the most susceptible range is between 120 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, though this of course depends on the substrate and amount of moisture present.

The local climate also has a bearing on the susceptibility of equipment to CUI. Assets located outdoors in tropical or semi-tropical environments will require more frequent inspection than those in arid environments. Equipment in coastal environments should be thoroughly inspected often, and should also utilize coatings that account for the constant presence of moisture.


How often maintenance is performed on a facility will have a major effect on how successfully it stands up to corrosion. As mentioned earlier, a regularly scheduled coatings maintenance plan is not simply a strategy for preventing monetary setbacks from time lost to equipment out of commission or ruined materials. Facility upkeep is mandatory for ensuring the safety of staff operating near equipment that could be rendered faulty by CUI.

It is extremely important to frequently monitor the state of the insulating layer, as this is the first line of defense against the presence of moisture. Are there any obvious cracks or seams that would easily allow moisture to seep between the insulation and the substrate? Are protrusions such as valves and nozzles adequately sealed? Are there any obvious signs of damage to the insulation?

On the substrate itself, it’s important that it be protected with a high temp coating that is operating within its designated temperature range. How old is the coating? Has either it or the pipe itself exceeded its service life? If the age of the coating is uncertain, it may be a smart bet to plan on replacing it, especially if there are obvious signs of degradation.

A second opinion

For a variety of reasons, some equipment or areas of a facility will be more susceptible to CUI than others. These areas should be closely monitored and marked as eligible for risk-based inspections. If you are an engineer or facility manager interested in a second opinion from a NACE-certified coatings professional, we would be happy to conduct a free, on-site survey of your facility. Simply get in touch with us through our Request a Consultation page.


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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

The problem of corrosion under insulation

Recently we discussed the basics of high temp coatings. These coatings are often used in process facilities such as refineries, oil and gas, and petrochemical plants. One of the main uses of high temp coatings in these facilities is for the protection of pipe systems that regularly transport various materials at high heat.

In order to increase efficiency, reduce heat loss and capitalize on energy savings, these hot pipes are usually covered with a layer of insulation. This insulation is also sometimes put in place to protect personnel from being burned by these pipes. Unfortunately, it is this layer of insulation that helps to create the conditions for one of the most vexing corrosion problems in the industry, known as corrosion under insulation, or CUI.

Corrosion under insulation of steel pipes

Why it happens

CUI occurs when moisture becomes trapped in the area between the hot pipe and the thick layer of insulation surrounding it. Since this moisture is unable to escape, prolonged contact between it and the steel substrate accelerates corrosion. Whether it enters through cracks or holes in the insulation, this trapped moisture has the potential to cause rapid rusting and corrosion on the pipe’s surface.

Since the layer of insulation completely surrounds the pipe, corrosion under insulation often goes unnoticed. When the insulation is finally stripped from the pipe, either to investigate a problem or as part of a scheduled replacement, facility managers sometimes find the pipe to be completely ruined.

What to do

Because of this risk of accelerated CUI, great care is taken to make sure that the insulation surrounding a pipe is completely enclosed. Joints, terminations and other irregularities along the length of the pipe are carefully sealed. Nevertheless, moisture does penetrate insulating layers with some frequency. As a result, CUI has become something of a hot topic in process facilities. Facility managers are constantly on the lookout for the magic bullet that will eliminate the problem of CUI.

As of now, no magic solution exists for the problem of CUI. The best plan for battling the problem entails checking piping under insulation often as a part of a scheduled coatings maintenance plan, sealing insulation with care, and most importantly, choosing a high quality high temp coating.

It’s important to verify that the high temp coating you choose has been specifically designed to stand up to high temperatures and to defend against CUI. Also, that it is designed to withstand the range of temperatures the substrate will subject it to. When chosen to match these criteria, high temp coatings are the most effective method for fighting CUI currently available in process facilities.


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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

The basics of high temp coatings

As their name suggests, high temperature coatings are those that are able to provide corrosion protection even under extreme heat. Industrial high temp coatings are widely used in process-based facilities such as refineries, petrochemical plants, pulp and paper mills and power plants. These facilities usually contain extensive networks of pipe that need to be diligently protected from corrosion under insulation and away from the naked eye. For this reason, it’s essential facility managers have confidence in the effectiveness of their high temp coatings.

High temp coatings

Predictably, high temp coatings are also often used on smokestacks, kiln exteriors, portable fireplace units and so on. Different uses require different properties from high temp coatings. Often our customers will ask if a high temp coating will still provide the corrosion protection they’re looking for, or if it is safe to use on a barbeque pit. Here we’ll discuss a few features to consider when selecting a high temp coating.


Ease of application should be a major consideration when selecting a high temp coating. It can be the deciding factor when choosing between two products. The reason being, high temp coatings are often not applied as a part of some massive recoating initiative, but rather on an as-needed basis, with touch ups occurring at various points around a facility.

With a product that is easy to apply, such as a single-component, direct-to-metal coating, assets that have been taken out of service by corrosion can be returned to duty quickly. In the case of coatings under insulation (CUI), single-component systems are easier to apply in sections where the insulation has been removed, but more on the issues presented by CUI in a later post. Single-component systems are also easier to keep in stock for spot touch-ups, ideally as a part of a regular coatings maintenance plan.

To avoid needing to shut down entire portions a facility, it also helps to have a high temp coating that can be applied even to a hot surface. This feature will make spot coating portions of a facility a much more manageable undertaking and cause less of a disturbance to day-to-day operations.

Temperature range

What is the effective temperature range of this product? It’s one of the first questions a customer will ask when seeking a high temp coating. And it’s really important. One of the most common sources of failure occurs when these coatings are expected to perform outside of the range they were manufactured to tolerate.

Some coatings are rated between 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit, some are rated up to 1200 degrees and beyond. Different resins and chemical compositions of individual products will determine their effectiveness at high temperatures. Whatever their rating, protecting substrates from corrosion is always the main goal.

Aesthetics and food safety

In areas where piping is color-coded, or painted certain colors for purely aesthetic reasons, it’s important to confirm that exposure to high temperatures won’t lead to discoloration. Coatings with poor color retention can lead to recoating more frequently than would otherwise be necessary.

In some situations it’s essential to verify that high temp coatings are food-grade safe. Consider the black coating on the inside of a traditional barbeque pit. Those coatings must consistently stand up to high heats while giving off no harmful chemicals that could compromise the food being prepared.

Stay tuned to our blog for more on high temp coatings, or to browse our full line of these products, download our product catalog through the link below.

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Choosing coatings for the power generation market

Maintenance should be holding railcar coatings responsible

A railcar faithfully serves for the length of its lease and then returns to the shop for inspection. The extent of necessary repairs is assessed. It’s repaired and then blasted with an abrasive. Next, the railcar is painted, followed by a curing period. Then quality control tests are run on the car to make sure the application measures up to standards. Finally, dry film readings are taken and some environmental measurements are recorded.

This process is repeated as a part of the railcar maintenance process thousands of times for thousands of railcars in shops all over the country. This leads to a lot of quality control-related paperwork building up. It gets damaged. It gets moved. Even if the measurements are diligently recorded in the first place, the paperwork may no longer be available when the railcar returns for maintenance after five or so years.

railcar inspections

This makes it difficult to determine the cause of damage to the owner’s railcars. Was the railcar coating or lining applied improperly? Or was the product deficient? Being able to determine the cause of the problem is essential to fixing it, and avoiding costly repairs in the future. Digitized, more objective, better-organized quality control is the key to making more informed decisions about the cause of breakdowns.

It’s also key to documenting damage. If you’re an owner that leases your railcars out, you expect normal wear and tear when your cars are returned. But in the case of extensive damage, the car needs to be repaired before it can be leased to another customer. Imagine contaminants or corrosive cargo have pitted the steel in a tank car. It must be cleaned, photographed, and then readings and measurements taken for documentation. The railcar maintenance process in many shops is time-consuming, and frankly, behind the times.

Take your QC digital

Railcar coatings documentation is in need of serious overhaul. Luckily, cloud-based storage already provides a smart alternative to stacks and stacks of paper records. Digitally stored accounts of quality control readings, inspection details and photographs and descriptions of damage can then be retrieved with a few swipes of the finger.

As tablets have become smaller, more durable and less expensive, their usefulness in industrial settings has increased dramatically. Software that’s compatible with paint thickness gauges has made quality control truly objective for the first time, while reducing errors from missed reading and sloppy transcription. And because quality control apps have the capability to sync in real-time, everyone involved in a project can stay on the same page.

For coatings manufacturers, this means it’s easier for customers to hold our products accountable. Better records make it easier to pinpoint the source of a problem. When you stand behind your products, this is a very good thing.

Let’s talk

In addition to supplying railcar coatings, we’re committed to modernizing the railcar inspection process. Get in touch and let’s discuss how the digital documentation software we provide is improving owners’ inspection experience and holding manufacturers accountable for their products’ performance.


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